Re-reading: The Cricket Term

Still re-reading my Antonia Forest collection, and The Cricket Term is one of my favourites of the lot, and one I re-read most often when I was in high school myself. Someone elsewhere has described it as a summery, joyous book, and that is certainly true. In some ways, it seems rambling and episodic, the term punctuated by the usual small dramas (Lawrie's difficulty in finding a way to play Ariel in The Tempest, Nicola's determination to win the Cricket Cup), along with some more serious matters (Nicola finds out that due to lack of family funds, she might have to leave Kingscote; there is a wholly unexpected death). Yet the overall atmosphere of the book is happy and triumphant, with several storylines that have played out over previous books being satisfactorily brought to conclusion. The Cricket Term almost reads like the last of the series -- except that there are two more books to come, the jarringly 'with-it' The Attic Term, in which Ginty features largely (not my favourite Marlow sister!), and the disappointing Run Away Home.

Even though I've read The Cricket Term so many times before, I was forcibly struck this time by the degree to which this novel is about luck. There are many references to superstitions, rituals, and bargains with the gods. Stuff Happens, for no apparent reason, and with no apparent bearing on the overall plot: Nicola hurts her hand, but it doesn't stop her playing in the all-important final match; the person who dies has been off-screen for the whole book, and we readers have forgotten about them such as much as the characters have. Ginty relies on her lucky clover for success in the Diving Cup, but it doesn't work. Nicola's team seem to have lucky breaks in the cricket matches -- flukey catches, unlikely run-outs -- but in fact, luck is with them because Nicola has trained them relentlessly to fly for every chance. And the final awarding of the scholarship is similarly flukey and surprising, the winners and losers unexpected yet somehow right.

And there is a striking contrast drawn between Nicola's hard-won stoicism, which enables her to handle her troubles and disappointments with grace and dignity, and the reactions of her arch-enemy, Games Captain Lois Sanger, whose self-deceiving, fundamentally dishonest approach to life leaves her ill-equipped to face the future that awaits her after school, as she steps out of the pages of this book and the series. It's a subtle lesson, but a valuable one.

I'm considering making this pleasurable re-read an annual event -- a treat for August, perhaps, which is always such a hectic, stressful month. Something to look forward to!


  1. Hi Kate! You really need to have a followers option on this site so I can find you on my dashboard when you post. And the last few, about re-reads, have reminded me why I love doing it. I admit I haven't recently re-read anything

  2. Drat! It skipped the second half of my comment. ...from my childhood and a lot of classics I discovered as an adult. I wonder if I'd enjoy them now or find them dated? Should I just keep my fond memories or have a go?

  3. It can be risky, Sue, I agree! Some of my childhood faves haven't worn as well as I would have liked. But there are a few that really do repay repeated readings; the trick is to find them! And I guess they'll be different for everyone.